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Showing posts from February, 2010

The American in Simla

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Winter is here; the hedgehog/groundhog had come out, saw its shadow in the clear day and went back into its burrow proclaiming that winter will last another 6 weeks. It may not be so cold in India but then, one of these days, you would go to the fruit vendor and decide to buy apples. The shopkeeper is definite to ask you ‘imported (China) of Simla’? And you ponder. These days many are bound to say ‘imported’, but in earlier times we would not hear that option and end up with the sweet Simla apples. Returning home, a quick bite into the crunchy fruit transports you to the Himachal valleys where it is all grown. Not many would think, how on earth did this fruit end up in India? But one or two may.

History is like traversing one of those twisting roads during your childhood. You turn a corner, to affront an elephant perhaps, or a queer person, or one you fear, a vicious man with a hideous face maybe, sometimes it is a ferocious giant, sometimes it a gentle benevolent person, sometimes it …

Pazhassi Raja’s death – A whodunit

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The Pazhassi Raja movie has been running for many months now, and most of you would have seen the movie (By the way - I saw it today). The story has been dissected, talked over many a cup of tea, written about in many articles and blogs and is for all practical purposes done and dusted with and consigned to history where the story belonged. Many of you have come up with your own versions and conclusions to the story of the Kottayam Raja and his times, as well as the other characters, taking one side or the other. But one matter remains unresolved, how did the Rajah actually die? I decided to check this in greater detail. A good read of Nick Balmer’s blog linked here would help jump start the process.

So let us go again to the fateful day - 30th Nov 1805 Pulpalli forest, Thomas Hervey Baber, Karunakara Menon, Capt Clapham his 50 sepoys and 100 kolkars, half of Capt Watson’s police and half of Baber’s staff are out there braving the jungles and tribal guerillas to take on the Pazhassi R…

Chennai days – Part 1

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The Pycroft’s road of Madras stretches from the Marina beach to Royapetta high road. On one end is situated the Presidency college with its hallowed walls damaged by the shell shot by the German ship Emden, the college where my dad had studied. On the other end is, well sort of to the end, is the Amir mahal – the palace of the Nawab of Arcot. Just off the corner through Gen Patter’s road is the Mount road. Opposite the huge gates of Amir Mahal is the Zambazar police station – Jambajar as Tamilian’s call it. The road is jam (maybe that is how the bazar got its name) packed usually where cattle, cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws, cars, buses, cycles (motorized and pedaled) and pedestrians compete to find space to nudge through.

The wheezy old bullock is there because nobody wants it. How it reached this market is a matter not worthy of thought, but suffice to say it did. It had (so far) luckily escaped the people who chop such defenseless animals up to make beef fry’s and serve it at plac…

The Bewitching Yakshi

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The middle aged Namboothiri (A class of Brahmins in Kerala) was on his way across the fields that warm & sultry summer evening, going from his mana to the neighboring one, only that the other one was some distance away. He was indeed walking the distance and alone. Dusk had approached and he was moving swiftly, muttering the name of the lord under his breath to keep away various evil spirits lurking around. As he walked, a figure appeared from the side path. A voluptuous figure dressed in white, flowing hair, a jasmine wreath on one side of the head approached him. To his eyes, at first look she seemed afraid of the darkening gloom. On second looks he was mesmerized, the jasmine smell was sweet and enticing, and the woman, this fully endowed ‘apsarass’ left nothing more to be desired. Such was her beauty and figure. He stopped transfixed. The lady softly asked if she could accompany him on the walk as she was terrified to venture on her own, she was a bit too late returning home. …